We all knew what was coming. Put the London derby bravado to one side and tell me you honestly expected us to go to Stamford bridge and come away with a stunning victory? I didn’t. It’s disappointing that Arsenal have slumped to such a level where I have no expectation of victory at Chelsea.
I said yesterday I don’t read the Wenger press conferences because it’s an exercise in repetition. Ground Hog Day (GHD) arrived early this year despite the hype whipped up after victories against some average teams.
It is true that we had plenty of possession today. What does it matter though? You don’t congratulate Stoke for their trademark brutality or Blackburn for their long ball. It’s how they play. We train almost solely on our short passing game and possession football, so it’s a given we’ll generally have more possession and make more passes than our opposition. Trouble is, our style isn’t a winning formula any more, it needs top class in every position and it needs power. We don’t have a squad with enough depth and we’re not organised enough to play against better teams.
What counts in football is the result. We were toothless today and hardly troubled Cech at all. I said before the game we’d have to have our shooting boots… they were clearly missing. Cech wasn’t troubled all day. Wenger had this to say,
“We dominated this game quite surprisingly in my opinion. It was surprisingly easy. But we go home with zero points.”
It’s amazing that Wenger can talk about a surprisingly easy 2-0 loss against Chelsea. We had a lot of the ball, it didn’t matter though, Chelsea are so well organised they can afford us possession and they know we’re unlikely to find a way through when we don’t have our best players out. When we don’t have the finer more refined cogs in the machine working, we become very predictable and laboured to watch.
There was some poor refereeing to contend with. Drogba looked offside in the build up for the first. Mike Dean thought the Malouda stamp on Sagna was ok and moments later he deemed a clumsy lunge by Essien on Diaby’s ankle acceptable. The Frenchman came back on, clearly he had France in mind for next week.
Chelsea weren’t great today, don’t allow anyone to fool you into thinking otherwise. They scored a fluke back heel that Drogba certainly had no idea about and Alex scored the freekick of his life. If you look at our chances, it’s incredible we didn’t get something out of the game. Kozzer headed over from a yard, Chamakh hit a diving header just wide, Arshavin had a rasping shot tipped over, Squillaci and Nasri should have done better with pretty straight forward chances.
No use complaining though. We’re playing top class competition. If you want to win, you have to convert.
It all boils down to one thing. We simply do not have the personnel to win major trophies. Song is not good enough and he never will be. Diaby is so average it hurts. I don’t care if he comes good next season, football is about the now. He’s a player who can barely string three games together and when he does, 70% of his performances are forgettable. Do you rate Diaby on how well he plays or by how well he plays against his usually poor standards? I’m the latter…
There was hardly any service for Chamakh. It was painful watching us crab the ball round the edge of the box waiting for the perfect opening. It was frustrating watching Arshavin do nothing. Where has his explosive side disappeared to? How can one so talented be so liberal giving the ball away?
We’re all whacking skippy over our centre backs yet we’ve conceded one more goal than we had at this point last year. Personally I thought they did well today. There were a few silly mistakes, but I feel more confident at the back than I have in a while. However, you can’t ignore the stats, we’re still conceding too many.
In goal, arguably we’ve regressed. Fabianski played well but lets not kid ourselves he is going to become what we need. Chamakh is an improvement up front, he can’t do it all by himself.
We can talk about injuries and how dreadfully unlucky we are with them, but like I’ve said before, you have to use history to predict the future. Does Wenger not look at the records of Walcott, Diaby, RvP, Bendtner and now even Cesc and think that at some point, we’re going to need to back up for those players? Wenger openly admits he does not ‘believe in history and preconceived ideas’, well perhaps that’s the problem? I mean honestly, putting JET on in the last ten minutes to chase a game is desperate isn’t it (as much as I like him of course)?
If we’d had a full squad on show, I’m confident we’d be talking about a victory right now. The question is… will we ever have a fully fit squad to choose from?
Our current group aren’t robust enough to cater for their brittleness. When Wenger talks about not buying players because of career deaths, he always seems to forget that we’re always short of numbers through the season and injury usually always puts paid to any trophy chance we might have.
The coach has posted £56million worth of profit at the expense of Arsenal being competitive. Shocking as it may sound, I wonder if finishing 3rd last season angered him because we missed out on the extra revenue the 2 qualifying games provide? How long can you accept a manager in charge of a top class club that cares more for profit than he does for trophies?
My hope is that the next time we play Chelsea we have our big boys back. Aaron Ramsey has bulked up and many at Arsenal believe he is a better prospect than Wilshere, he’ll be playing in December. Nik Bendtner is looking very lean, don’t be surprised to see him playing against Newcastle. Vermaelen should be back soon and I’m pretty sure RvP and Theo are penciled in for a return after the break. Plus we’ll obviously have Cesc back and playing.
If you look at our injuries, the bulk are the result of impacts or twists unlike last season where they were mostly soft tissue. That bodes well on the one hand because we’re getting rotten luck, but is counteracted on the other as you wonder whether our players are unlucky or just massively injury prone?
Today’s loss is a hammer blow for our title aspirations, but if we can still be in contention past Christmas, you never know what might happen. It’s just such a shame we’ve got a manager who is so blinded by arrogance and a belief in his silly fight with footballs big spenders, he has forgotten what he is paid to do… win things.
See you in the comments.
Fabianski: Bar a shoddy flap at a Clichy headed clearance he had a pretty solid game. There was nothing he could do when Drogba back heeled into the near post by accident. There was little he could do from the Alex freekick. Well, actually, I think a world-class keeper would have done better, but we’re not in that situation so I’ve lowered my expectations. Made some great saves today and kicks the ball a mile. 8
Clichy: He’s a nightmare, he made a few poor clearances, had a wild shot and his constant running into the opposition becomes quite tiresome. 6
Sagna: From a defensive point of view he did really well in the first half with a few vital clearances. He was part of the problem for the first allowing Malouda to sneak a cross into the box. He was pretty poor going forward, still, he’s paid to defend. 7
Squillaci: Out of the two centre backs, I felt he was exposed the most. He was caught out with an aerial ball and it could be argued he should have done better the get the right side of Drogba for the goal. In the second half he inexplicably gifted Anelka a one on one chance which thankfully the Frenchman hit just wide. He was a bit sluggish today. 6
Koscielny: Missed an open goal after 2 minutes becuase he wasn’t watching the ball. Committed the foul for the Alex freekick after a poor Nasri pass and he almost conceded a penalty. He looked tired and he was a touch sloppy. Overall,he did quite well strength wise against Drogba where he more than held his own. 6.5
Song: A weak performance from the Cameroonian, typical of this season. He bottled the Alex freekick, I thought his passing was off but as usual, his game fell down in two areas. Firstly his positional sense is way off kilter. He doesn’t protect the back 4 as he likes to get forward, then when we’re caught in possession he doesn’t have the pace to make it back, or, more worryingly, the motivation. Second issue I have with him is the raft of poor challenges he makes. He’s constantly fouling the opposition and one of those fouls led to the first goal. Also, watch how Song and Diaby prefer to run with the ball instead of making a quick pass, watch how that denigrates our style (WBA game a prime example of this). 5
Diaby: Personally I didn’t think his game was up to much in the first half, others disagreed. My beef with Diaby is that he is no longer a young man. He’s fast approaching 25 and he is still incredibly inconsistent and I don’t think he’s ever sustained any type of form. He’s one of the first names on the team sheet and he’s a massive risk. 6
Wilshere: He had a good game considering his age and the weight of expectation on his shoulders. Mutterings of him running the midfield are off. He was ok today but never really delivered his final ball with enough directness. 7
Nasri: He does a fantastic job of keeping the ball moving and he’s raised his game a few times this year. He also likes putting his foot in, I’m just not sure he delivers in the big ones. Nasri isn’t like Cesc, he needs others to play well to make him look great, he didn’t get that today, but he puts in maximum effort and I salute that. 6
Arshavin: He went missing yesterday. If he doesn’t get the rub of the green instantly, his head drops. He sauntered around like he was playing in the park with his mates, that kills me when he’s playing in such a big game. He needs to pull himself together and start performing every week. He’s dining out on those 4 goals still… not acceptable. 5.5
Chamakh: Needs to get a little more snap in his shooting, there were a couple of times he could have smashed a shot back at goal but he took too many touches. He was an aerial threat today but struggled with a lack of service. Needs to improve finishing. 6.5
Rosicky: Excellent when he came on. 7
Vela: Forgetable. 6
JET: No time. 6
P.S. Another weekend of horror tackles saw Ben Arfa break his leg. Arsenal Football blogs need to unite and kick kicking out of football. Check out Another Arsenal Blog’s excellent piece on Karl Henry and another challenge sent straight from hell. If you feel strongly about this, encourage other blogs you read to write about bad challenges and to support the campaign to clean up Premier League football.